Vicarious liability is an insurance term that means a shift in responsibility from one to another based on an existing relationship. Vicarious liability is the responsibility for an action arising from an incident being shifted from a certain entity or person to another entity or person. This is also known as a contingent liability.
Relationship examples include employee to employer, child to parent, or independent contractor to business. Many NASW Risk Retention Group professional liability policyholders act as independent contractors or as employees of social work agencies or in clinical hospital settings as employees. They also act as practice owners with employees and independent contractors on staff.
Therefore, a relationship exists and so does vicarious liability. You as the owner of the practice then become liable for your employees’ and your independent contractors’ actions or inactions.
So what do I look for in my professional liability policy? Make sure that you have adequate malpractice liability coverage for yourself as a result of your practice having employees and/or independent contractors. Incremental coverage options are available with an incremental premium.
It is important to know that a malpractice professional liability policy does not cover employment incidents such as wage, overtime, salary or benefit disputes, retaliation, harassment, or workplace discrimination for example. If your practice wants coverage for these perils, you will need to buy an Employer’s Professional Liability Insurance policy.